Thursday, 29 September 2016

ATZ - an English Adventure! Introduction part 1

****Warning this is a really long blog post, get a cuppa and get comfy****

Hi all

After playing a great game of ATZ-the board game with my son a little while ago, I started getting my appetite back for zombie wargaming.  Not that it was ever too far away but the full on immersion of collecting, painting and gaming of Bushido has certainly held my attention for so long that other hobby games have been kept almost at arms length.  No my love for Bushido has not dimmed at all, its still my favorite game by a long way but I'm not a one trick pony and still love the other games in my life.  So with Zombtober looming I started to think to myself what could I do in my very limited free time i.e the time between work/study/family which equates to about an hour a day, last thing before bedtime......


yeah baby! It's time to break out the modular boards that I slavishly worked on over last year and spent quite a bit of cash on and then put under the table when I discovered Bushido... oops! But in the past I keep starting and stopping campaigns as I run out of steam or enthusiasm for the characters that I have come up with so it was time to do things differently.  This time I have taken a leaf out of the ATZ Grandmaster himself Mr Bryan "Vampifan" Scott and I'm gonna base the characters on people currently in my life whether personally, socially or professionally and the principal character will be based on ME! or at least a version of me, in fact all the characters are versions and I will change names slightly to protect the innocent.  In fact the name I've chosen for me is Andy "da Gobbo" Wosa, this is not my surname of course but the name that a local fast food outlet called me DESPITE me spelling my rather difficult (not!) four letter surname over the phone, Wosa is now a standard joke in my family when people get our name wrong!

Unusually for ATZ my campaign will be set, as the title suggests in fair England and not in the US. This will require some adjustment to be made particularly in the cards that I use when searching buildings as firearms are a lot less likely to be found in the average household in England and those that are about tend to be shotguns (farms) and target pistols (.22) of course there are other types of guns about but they tend to be in the possession of law enforcement (still fairly scarce) and of course criminal gangs (not as rare as people may think).  So the campaign is to be set in England, to be more accurate the county of Kent which is located in the South East of the country and borders the nations capital London.  In fact the campaign will be entirely set in the Isle of Thanet....

The Isle of Thanet*

The Isle of Thanet /ˈθænɪt/ lies at the most easterly point of Kent, England. While in the past it was separated from the mainland by the 600-metre (2,000 ft) Wantsum Channel, it is no longer an island. Archaeological remains testify to the fact that ancient peoples lived here. Today, it is a tourist destination, but it also has a busy agricultural base. Standard reference works for English place-names, such as Eilert Ekwall's Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place-Names, state that the name "Thanet" is Celtic in origin, and may mean "bright island" or "fire island", perhaps from the presence of a beacon or lighthouse. The Historia Brittonum, written in Wales in the 9th century, states that "Tanet" was the name used for the island by the legendary Anglo-Saxons Hengist and Horsa, while its name in contemporary Welsh was "Ruoi(c)hin"; this name may be translated as "gift" (compare Modern Welsh rhwych). The 7th-century Archbishop Isidore of Seville recorded an apocryphal folk-etymology in which the island's name is fancifully connected with the Greek word for death (Thanatos/Θάνατος), stating that Thanet, "an island of the ocean separated from Britain by a narrow channel ... [was] called Tanatos from the death of serpents; for while it has none of its own, soil taken from it to any place whatsoever kills snakes there." Archaeological evidence shows that the area now known as the Isle of Thanet was one of the major areas of Stone Age settlement. A large hoard of Bronze Age implements has been found at Minster-in-Thanet; and several Iron Age settlements have also come to light.

Like their predecessors, the Romans also crossed the sea to invade Britain. Julius Caesar came first, briefly, in both 55 and 54 BC; one hundred years later Claudius sent four legions to Britain, where the Romans were to remain for the next four hundred years. During that time the port of Richborough, on the opposite side of the Wantsum Channel, became one of the chief ports. After the breakup of the Roman Empire and their departure from Britain, other invaders soon followed.
Vortigern, King of the Britons, was under attack from other tribes and called for assistance. Among them were the Jutes Hengest and Horsa; he is said to have rewarded them with the Isle of Thanet in return for their services. As the following extract from the Historia Britonum (first written sometime shortly after AD 833) testifies:
Then came three keels, driven into exile from Germany. In them were the brothers Horsa and Hengest ... Vortigern welcomed them, and handed over to them the island that in their language is called Thanet, in British Ruoihm.

Throughout this time the Isle remained an island. The Wantsum Channel allowed ships to sail between the mainland and the island in calm waters. Gradually this silted up, and the last ship sailed through the Channel in 1672.
In 597 Augustine of Canterbury is said, by the Venerable Bede, to have landed with 40 men at Ebbsfleet, in the parish of Minster-in-Thanet, before founding Britain's second Christian monastery in Canterbury (the first was founded fifty years earlier by Saint Columba on Eilean na Naoimh, in the Hebrides): a cross marks the spot. In 851 and again in 854, the Vikings wintered on Thanet.
Minster's village website states "It is widely believed, around 670 AD, whether in truth or legend, that the Hind emblem owes its origin to Egbert, King of Kent and Princess Domneva. The King purportedly asked Domneva which piece of land she wished to take as compensation for the murder of her two brothers. Her answer was that she would take no more than her tame deer would run around. This the King granted her with pleasure, and the land became the new Minster." Domneva is a variant name for Domne Eafe.

By 1334–1335 Thanet had the highest population density in Kent according to Edward III's lay subsidy rolls. It acted as a granary for Calais and documents towards the end of that century refer to turreted walls beneath the cliffs needing maintenance. Coastal erosion has long since destroyed these structures.
The Isle of Thanet first came into being when sea levels rose after the last Ice Age, around 5000 BC. The North Sea encroached on the land which is now the estuary of the River Thames, and southwards to reach the higher land of the North Downs, leaving behind an island composed of Upper Chalk in its wake. Eventually the sea broke through river valleys in the North Downs to the south (Middle Chalk) and finally today's English Channel was opened up. The Upper Chalk is a soft pure-white limestone with abundant flints. The proto-River Stour then formed part of the intervening water, with a new tributary, the River Wantsum, completing it; it became known as the Wantsum Channel.
The Wantsum Channel gradually narrowed as pebble beaches built up at the southern end of the strait, blocking silt coming down the Stour. Bede, in the 8th century, said that the Channel was then three furlongs wide (660 yards (600 m)). A map of 1414 showed a ferry crossing at Sarre. The first bridge over the channel was built there in 1485. Until the mid 18th century there was a ferry between Sandwich and the island; in 1755 a wooden drawbridge was built, and the ferry was closed.
Today the Isle is an island no longer and the erstwhile channel is now flat marshland criss-crossed by drainage ditches. Meanwhile, the exposed chalk cliffs are gradually being worn down by the sea, particularly at the North Foreland. Much else of the coast is a built-up area. The Wantsum area is still liable to flooding: during the North Sea flood of 1953 Thanet was cut off for a few days, but the sea defences have been strengthened since then.

The soil and equable climate of the Isle have always encouraged arable farming.
"... a garden indeed, a county of corn but the labourers' houses all along, beggarly in the extreme. The people dirty, poor-looking, but particularly dirty."
— William Cobbett in 1823 when he rode to the Island
Today there are still farms inland, but the coast is nearly all covered in settlements, most of which have come into being in the 19th and 20th centuries.
As the popularity of the seaside resort grew, so did that of the Isle of Thanet. At first the holidaymakers came by boat from London; after the coming of the railways in the mid-1840s, that became the preferred mode of transport

* Apologies but I have shamelessly taken this from Wikipedia, poor research on my behalf but I'm time pressured and it's fairly accurate in this instance - so there!

WAKE UP!!!!!

By now, no doubt you're probably thinking what the bloody hell is he on about? where are the zombies? what is he up to? Well I wanted to give you an insight to the locale of the campaign as it's important to know.  The Isle of Thanet used to be a proper Island, separated from the mainland by a body of fast flowing water, now it's a peninsula due to the silt build up of the Wantsum. But what if that was to change? what if, for example something happened to remove those centuries of silt in an instant? The Wantsum has flooded before following a swell (just a swell) in the North Sea, what if something bigger happened that changed the landscape and all at the worst possible time.....

SS Richard Montgomery was an American Liberty ship built during World War II, one of the 2,710 used to carry cargo during the war. The ship was wrecked off the Nore sandbank in the Thames Estuary, near Sheerness, England in 1944 with around 1,400 tonnes (1,500 short tons) of explosives on board, which continues to be a hazard to the area.

The ship was built by the St. Johns River Shipbuilding Company in its second year of operations, and was the seventh of the 82 such ships built by that yard. Laid down on 15 March 1943, she was launched on 15 June 1943, and completed on 29 July 1943, given the official ship number 243756, and named after General Richard Montgomery, an Ulster soldier who was killed during the American Revolution.
In August 1944, on what was to be her final voyage, the ship left Hog Island, Philadelphia, where she had been loaded with 6,127 tons of munitions.
She travelled from the Delaware River to the Thames Estuary, then anchored while awaiting the formation of a convoy to travel to Cherbourg, France, which had come under Allied control on 27 July 1944 during the Battle of Normandy.
When Richard Montgomery arrived off Southend, she came under the authority of the Thames naval control at HMS Leigh located at the end of Southend Pier. The harbour master, responsible for all shipping movements in the estuary, ordered the ship to a berth off the north edge of Sheerness middle sands, an area designated as the Great Nore Anchorage.
On 20 August 1944, she dragged anchor and ran aground on a sandbank around 250 metres from the Medway Approach Channel, in a depth of 24 feet (7.3 m) of water. The general dry cargo liberty ship had an average draught of 28 ft (8.5 m); however, Richard Montgomery was trimmed to a draught of 31 ft (9.4 m). As the tide went down, the ship broke her back on sand banks near the Isle of Sheppey about 1.5 miles (2.5 km) from Sheerness and 5 miles (8 km) from Southend.
A Rochester-based stevedore company was given the job of removing the cargo, which began on 23 August 1944, using the ship's own cargo handling equipment. By the next day, the ship's hull had cracked open, causing several cargo holds at the bow end to flood. The salvage operation continued until 25 September, when the ship was finally abandoned before all the cargo had been recovered. Subsequently, the ship broke into two separate parts, roughly at the midsection.
During the enquiry following the shipwreck it was revealed that several ships moored nearby had noticed Richard Montgomery drifting towards the sandbank. They had attempted to signal an alert by sounding their sirens without avail, since throughout this Captain Wilkie of Richard Montgomery was asleep. The ship's chief officer was unable to explain why he had not alerted the captain. A Board of Inquiry concluded that the anchorage the harbour master assigned had placed the ship in jeopardy, and returned Richard Montgomery's captain to full duty within a week.
According to a survey conducted in 2000 by the United Kingdom Maritime and Coastguard Agency, the wreck still held munitions containing approximately 1,400 tonnes (1,500 short tons) of TNT high explosive. These comprise the following items of ordnance:
  • 286 × 2,000 lb (910 kg) high explosive "Blockbuster" bombs
  • 4,439 × 1,000 lb (450 kg) bombs of various types
  • 1,925 × 500 lb (230 kg) bombs
  • 2,815 fragmentation bombs and bomb clusters
  • Various explosive booster charges
  • Various smoke bombs, including white phosphorus bombs
  • Various pyrotechnic signals
An investigation by New Scientist magazine concluded in 2004, based partly on government documents released in 2004, that the cargo was still deadly, and could be detonated by a collision, an attack, or even shifting of the cargo in the tide. The bad condition of the bombs is such that they could explode spontaneously. Documents declassified shortly before revealed that the wreck was not dealt with immediately after it happened, or in the intervening 60 years, due to the expense.
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency nevertheless believe that the risk of a major explosion is remote. The UK government's Receiver of Wreck commissioned a risk assessment in 1999, but this risk assessment has not been published. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency convened with local and port authorities to discuss the report in 2001 and concluded that "doing nothing was not an option for much longer."
One of the reasons that the explosives have not been removed was the unfortunate outcome of a similar operation in July 1967 to neutralize the contents of Kielce, a ship of Polish origin, sunk in 1946 off Folkestone in the English Channel. During preliminary work Kielce, containing a comparable amount of ordnance, exploded with force equivalent to an earthquake measuring 4.5 on the Richter scale, digging a 20-foot-deep (6 m) crater in the seabed and bringing "panic and chaos" to Folkestone, although no injuries.
According to a BBC news report in 1970, it was determined that if the wreck of Richard Montgomery exploded, it would throw a 1,000-foot-wide (300 m) column of water and debris nearly 10,000 feet (3,000 m) into the air and generate a wave 16 feet (5 m) high. Almost every window in Sheerness (pop. circa 20,000) would be broken and buildings would be damaged by the blast. However, news reports in May 2012 (including one by BBC Kent) stated that the wave could be about 4 feet (1 m) high, which although lower than previous estimates would be enough to cause flooding in some coastal settlements.
When the condition of the munitions was originally assessed there was concern that copper azide, an extremely sensitive explosive, would be produced through reaction between lead azide and copper from fuse components (lead azide would react with water vapour, rather than liquid water, to form hydrazoic acid, which could react with copper in the detonating cap to form copper azide).
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said in 1998, "as the fuses will probably all have been flooded for many years and the sensitive compounds referred to are all soluble in water this is no longer considered to be a significant hazard."
Critics of government assurances that the likelihood of a major explosion is remote argue that one of the fuses of the 2,600 fuzed-fragmentation devices could become partially flooded and undergo the reaction producing copper azide. A knock, such as caused by the ship breaking up further, or a collision on the busy shipping lane, could cause the copper azide to explode and trigger an explosive chain reaction detonating the bulk of the munitions.
The wreck site has been surveyed regularly since 1965 to determine the stability of the structure, with a diver survey being completed in 2003. High-resolution multi-beam sonar surveys in 2005 and September 2006 found that there had been no recent significant movement of the wreck.
Surveys undertaken in 2008 and 2009 by the MCA, and reported in September 2011, showed that the ship was continuing to deteriorate structurally, with accelerated deterioration in some areas and new cracks appearing in the bow section of the wreck. The report states that "Whilst significant structural collapse does not appear to be imminent, surveys suggest that this prospect is getting closer."


So now we have an Island that is no longer an island with a ship full of explosives wrecked only a few nautical miles from Thanet that could cause an underwater earthquake and could cause a tidal wave, albeit a smallish one.  BUT what if the estimations of the effects were under-reported to avoid a panic in those coastal towns? what if the amount of explosives was underestimated? would the shock wave be stronger? would the tidal wave be bigger? could that be enough to cut off the people of Thanet from the rest of Kent? 

What if the SS Montgomery was transporting something else intended to support the Allies in the war effort against the Axis? what if that weapon was a virus, a particularly nasty one that has been sitting on a ship wreck for the last 70+ years, able to survive extreme environments, mutating and waiting........

to be continued.......

Monday, 26 September 2016

ATZ the board game bat rep part 2

Hi all

We pick up where we left off from part 1 which you can read Here.

Beck fumbled for the magazine she had stuffed in her pocket earlier that day. She was running again, she just had to make distance and get away from the bar Meemo’s that she had entered trying to find a weapon, but which had instead been filled with zombies! Now there were just so many of the deadheads pouring out of the surrounds trying to get to her and her BFF Tonya and snack down on the two ex-street walkers.  Talking of which, where was Tonya? The beautiful yet deadly woman who had travelled with Beck from Las Vegas to this dusty no-name shithole.

The loud discharge of a firearm over on the north west side of town drew Beck’s attention, that had to be Tonya. Finally pulling out the clip and slamming it into her own pistol, Beck pulled back the slide in time to see a zed stumbling closer to her. Lifting the weapon she pulled the trigger double tapping the big male and dropping it to the floor. Stepping over the redead-undead she headed toward the house that the friends had first entered when arriving in Shitsville confident that there would be no zombies inside now that they were chasing after the pair. [in the game buildings that have been entered literally have that as their status and are marked with a token! A player has to actively search it to reveal any items and for the building to gain the “searched” token] Creeping into the house she quickly but carefully searched it looking for weapons. “Goddamn it!” She cursed under her breath finding nothing, not even a revolver in the bedside cabinet, this was America wasn’t it? Where were all the goddamned citizens exercising their goddamned 2nd amendment rights?

Tonya, BFF to the frustrated Beck eyed the door of a likely house in the north west of town. The house was surrounded by a chain link fence with signs telling visitors to the property that “Trespassers will be shot without warning!” There just had to be a veritable arsenal stashed away behind those walls, she was sure of it.  Moving closer she saw that the front door was slightly ajar, pistol raised she crab-walked over and toe poked it open further, peering into the gloom.  Pistol leading the way now, she stepped silently into the hallway balancing the need for stealth with speed as the zombie hordes rampaged outside.  Tonya hoped that her friend was keeping safe somewhere, Beck had a tendency to get into trouble due to her bullheaded nature. Tonya was always having to pull her buddy’s fat out of the fire back in the day, whether it was a result of her mouthing off at some of the other girls back on the strip or pulling her off some “John” who'd thought he could rough her up because she walked the streets.  Tonya snorted with suppressed laughter as she remembered the time when she had walked into Beck’s room to find that Russian dude with a bottle shoved up his a…… A sudden noise coming from the room up ahead caused her to come back to the task at hand. “Damn it Beck, always distracting me!” She cursed as she lifted her pistol, pointing it down the hallway at the far room.  A crash from above her, followed by a low moan told her that another of the foul creatures that had once been ordinary people before “the Plague” had torn through America and by now, no doubt the world, was approaching. Another crash, another room and then another in a different direction and Tonya started to retreat back towards the front door.  One second the hall was empty save for Tonya, the next six of the former human beings who had lived their lives probably preparing for this very day but somehow falling anyway, came tearing out of adjoining rooms desperate to rip at her tender, warm flesh.

Beck jogged out of the door of the residence on the eastern edge of the dust bowl she had labelled “Shitsville”. Finding not even a dainty .22 in a ladies handbag in the hallway closet, she was royally pissed at this dump of a town, where were the guns? In this modern age of America where even toddlers had firearms and most households had more than one, where the fuck were the motherfu…… Beck’s inner rant was cut off as a huge weight crashed into her from the right side of the building. The zombie that charged her, pinned her right arm and consequently her pistol to her body while it tried to sink it’s teeth into the fleshy part of her shoulder. Beck screamed in agony as the filthy beast tore a piece of her deltoid muscle away and quickly swallowed the hot flesh. Drawing back her left hand, she snapped out a quick punch that forced the zed’s head back and allowed the former hooker to grab it by the lank hair in an attempt to slam its face into the wall. This brilliant plan which would have allowed her to gain vital space to run was curtailed as the toupee of the former resident of Shitsville was yanked off its head leaving Beck with a handful of Donald Trump Special. Taking advantage of her shock the zombie tried again to bite into her right arm only to find a mouthful of artificial hair as Beck shoved the wig down its throat. Twisting away, she desperately kicked out with her right leg, pushing rather than striking the undead creature back but gaining some clearance and allowing her to take few stumbling steps away from the choking zombie and right into the path of another.

Tonya emptied her clip down the length of the hallway at the family of dead ‘uns bearing down on her, the first in line, probably the matriarch of the house took a round to the forehead and dropped to the floor tripping the others behind her and giving Tonya a precious second or two to try to get clear of the house. At the last minute her famed agility left her though as she stumbled over the threshold and fell onto the front porch of the building. Gasping with the shock of falling she managed to regain her footing just as papa bear and one of the baby bears crashed into her and bowling her to the floor once more.

Beck growled in frustration as she bounced off the meaty chest of an enormous male zombie and stumbled backwards. “Leave me ALONE!!” She screamed at the creature, venting all of the anger and hatred that had been building up over the last three weeks. Curling her fingers into tight fists and forgetting to shoot the pistol that she still clutched in her right hand she launched herself at the zed, pounding at its face and neck in a brutal attack.  The red mist that had followed Beck all of her life and that had caused so many problems, arrests and fights descended on her, clouding her vision and pumping her full of adrenaline. Shoulder wound forgotten she tore at the face of the zombie with the nails of her left hand while using the butt of the pistol in her right to club the forehead of the deader.

Tonya smashed her elbow into the face of papa bear, breaking its nose and driving the bones and blood into the skull and forcing the zombie away from her. Baby bear slashed its nails across her toned stomach drawing a burning trail of bloody tracks along the soft flesh. Forcing her way to her feet she kicked the little bastard in the face knocking it on its ass. Gritting her teeth against the pain of her injury, she took to her heels and sprinted out of the compound.  Looking over her shoulder she saw the large form of papa bear slump to the floor as its head filled with bone fragments and blood, the rest of the clan chased after Tonya. Glancing round she could see the town filling with the groaning forms of the undead, ahead was a large car dealership, Tonya snorted in wonder - bizarrely in this two horse town they had a massive Lexus showroom! Shaking her head in astonishment she headed toward it wondering where the hell Beck had got to….

The sound of the pistol smashing into the face of the male zombie was matched by the ugly grunting noise coming from Beck’s throat as she drove the tempered steel of the 9mm into the nose of the zed over and over.  Beck was lost, the red mist had draped over her, narrowing her vision to this one epitome of the entire zombie apocalypse squirming underneath her. Smash/grunt, smash/grunt, smash/grunt… All thoughts of her friend Tonya was subsumed by the need to destroy this abomination. Smash/grunt, smash/grunt… the squirming had stopped some time ago but that fact had not registered with Beck as her famed temper demanded that she utterly destroy this filth. Smash/grunt… The former hooker oblivious to all but the red ruin of the creature below failed to notice the shadows of the former inhabitants of Shitsville as they closed in around her.

Tonya stopped at the big glass windows of the dealership, sitting inside the huge bays were the newest models. Big, gleaming machines, testament to the engineering prowess of the former dominant species of the planet. The ownership of one of these fine, expensive automobiles once signified that you had made it, reached the top of the American Dream. Now they just signified escape, a way of getting her and Beck out of this nightmare, she had to find her BFF and get the hell out.  Low groans and shuffling feet from every direction caused her to spin around raising her pistol in a two handed grip, she snatched at the trigger dropping the closest zed and shifted slightly to her right to switch to the next target and gazed into the empty eyes of her closest, bestest of all friends…..

So ends my first, but certainly not my last game of ATZ- the Board Game. All in all I enjoyed it, I forgot to use my rerolls half the time and we forgot the rules or misinterpreted quite a few which slowed the game down a bit too much, but that should get slicker with practice no doubt. The fact that it doesn't take up much room and the board can be put away between campaign sessions rather than a 3’x3’ board (or 4’x4’ in my case) that takes hours to sort out etc is a big plus. My ATZ FFO games are on my modular boards and use my scratch built hospital and other terrain pieces to bring a visual cinematic feel to it, whereas the board game forces you to use your imagination to bring it to life something that I enjoy doing so didn't detract from the playing experience only enhanced it for me. The campaign story in the back of the book is really good and that's what I'll start doing when I come back to the game, reviving Beck and Tonya and starting again, the tabletop version is a bit more flexible in that you can design the scenarios to suit your campaign and the direction you want to take it in.

All in all I liked it and as I say I will be coming back to the game but will be playing solo, which I think will be better. I think I prefer ATZFFO for the flexibility but I can see me reaching for the board game on those proverbial rainy days and whiling away a few hours immersed in the campaign.

Talking of ATZFFO, with Zombtober around the corner I thought I would, in my very limited free time start a new storyline.  I'm very fortunate that I'm able to leave my table set ups out for any length of time in da Grotto so I'm going to take my time and develop the story over the next few months and dip into it when I get a spare few minutes.  As AARs take a great deal of time and effort don't expect a report every week so the story will be interspersed with my usual Bushido posts and other hobby news plus of course with Zombtober there will be some painting of zombies and survivors to come although because of my non-hobby commitments it won't be anywhere near my usual output.  The story, unusually for a zombie apocalypse will be set here in leafy England which will require some adjustment to the rules particularly around firearms which are rarer here although not as rare as people think and it will star a character based on a certain Student Paramedic.....

As a taster this is a picture of the first gameboard

Hope you enjoy

Thursday, 22 September 2016

ATZ the Board Game - batrep

Hi all

The story so far, it is day 26 post apocalypse and Tonya and Beck arrive in a nameless town looking for weapons to bolster their meagre supply. Both are armed with a 9mm pistol, Beck carries extra ammo and Tonya carries a first aid kit. So here we go.....

Tonya glided gracefully forward, moving almost silently her pistol held in a two handed grip like on a cheesy cop show. By comparison Beck, despite being deceptively quick felt like a lumbering buffalo, it seemed her two left feet would find every imperfection in the road, crunching down on empty coke cans and broken glass making a riot of sound that seemed to carry to every corner of the main strip, her pistol dangling by her side as she tried desperately not to fall over her own awkward limbs - or at least so it seemed to her compared to the achingly beautiful, almost ethereal Tonya.

“Have you seen any of those dead’uns Ton?” Beck asked in a loud stage whisper that echoed all around, causing Tonya to wince in anticipation of an avalanche of undead responding to Beck’s booming voice. As if on cue, a tortured groan came from across the asphalt car park that they had been traversing and a single zombie stumbled out from behind a dumpster.

“Ahh it's just the one Ton, we can handle that easy, yeah?” Tonya rolled her eyes at the flat out challenge to the fates laid down by her friend, flicking the safety off of her Glock. Almost immediately another groan and another zombie appeared behind the first, followed by another and another.  Similar moans and shuffling from behind and to the sides indicated  that they were surrounded by the infected.

“You just had to say it didn't ya Beck!” Tonya huffed as she sprinted toward the closest building away from the zombies.  “Let's just grab some guns and get the f**k out of here!”

Beck blinked twice, her BFF was stunningly gorgeous, angelic even, but sheesh what a potty mouth…. Running to catch her up she reached the doorway just Beck heard the sharp crack of Tonya’s firearm. Dashing through the door she quickly took in the scene. The house was in an old western style and looked like an old ranch house with a big open plan ground floor, by the fireplace, which was big enough to step into was the remains of a zombie with a neat hole in its forehead and a less neat but far bigger hole in the back of its skull where Tonya’s 9mm bullet had exited. In the middle of the room Beck’s friend was struggling to keep another 3 of his buddies from ripping her to pieces and barely succeeding as fresh blood poured down her left arm from a laceration.  [Stefan had moved into the nearest house drawing a zombie card and getting 4, he managed to gun one down before engaging in melee, he couldn't kill a zed and ended up being wounded] Raising her own pistol with shaking hands, Beck discharged a shot before she could aim properly and the round slammed into the thigh of the closest zombie, tearing a huge chunk of muscle away from the bone but doing nothing more than turn its attention to Beck. Gulping visible, she backed away tripping on the rug and banging her head on the doorframe. [I had moved into the house as well, missed with my own shot and also got wounded in melee – bad start]

With a roar Tonya heaved at the zombies struggling to bite down on her succulent flesh, creating a tiny gap. Stepping back she gained yet more space and used it to clear the couch in a quick dive, rolling passed Beck and running for the door. Reaching out a hand she grabbed the startled Beck and dragged her away from the approaching zombies and out into the daylight.

Outside Beck could see that the zombies that had been chasing them were closing in. Lifting her pistol, she pulled the trigger twice in quick succession, dropping the closest zed with two in the head. A loud report behind her followed by the thud of a body hitting the floor told her that Tonya had taken another dead head out.  Tonya strode quickly forward, picking up a brick from a pile of rubble and smashed it into the leering face of a zombie closing in a little too fast. The rest of the zeds stalled in their advance and seemed to hang back at this show of aggression giving the girls a chance to slip away from the press of bodies.  [the zeds didn't move this turn and Stefan and I both dropped a zombie with pistol fire with Stefan killing another in melee. The noise of the shooting generated another zed] Beck spotted another zombie crawling out from behind a dumpster in front of the running women and squeezed off another two rounds throwing it backwards and causing it to fall into the dumpster with its feet up in the air. “Taking out the trash!” Beck cried out, causing Tonya to wince at the terrible joke.

Beck ran on, shooting almost wildly but still managing to fell another zed. Tonya peeled off to the left and gunned down a female zomb lurking on the porch of a nearby house before racing after the stocky figure of her friend. The strange lethargy that surrounded the zombies dissipated and they started to move towards the young women, three of them heading towards Tonya. Whipping around quickly, the lithe ex-dancer lazily extended her arm and the Glock barked twice dropping one before being herded towards a large metal building in the middle of town. Beck managed to squeeze another round from her 9mm before the hammer clicked down on empty but not before her shot took another zombie off its feet. [despite getting several hits with their pistols both Stefan and I characters somehow generated a zombie for each shot and we were slowly getting herded into the corner.]

Beck ran into Meemo’s bar thinking that she would be able to grab the obligatory sawn off that was bound to be stashed under the counter.  Inside the gloomy interior, she blinked to clear the dazzling sunlight out of her eyes, making out four shadowy figures groaning and moaning in the now very familiar sounds of the undead. Pulling the trigger of her nine, she had forgotten that it was unloaded and with a mounting horror she realised the level of trouble she was in as a dry clicking was all that the pistol managed to produce. Stumbling backwards she was attacked by the four zombies all rushing towards her, mouths wide open ready to bite. The first was on her almost immediately and she ducked under the outstretched arms of the foul creature backing toward the door of the bar,  fumbling for a fresh clip for her firearm. The second zed scratched a long wound down her forearm with a ragged nail, drawing a streak of hot, fresh blood out and onto the wooden floor with a audible splatter. [This meant that Beck was wounded and that she now had to flip her card over to the wounded side,  meaning her stats change for the worse] Sharp cracks from outside followed by the muffled thump of a large object hitting the floor told Beck her friend had picked off more of the filthy creatures.

The scratch down her arm was burning now and her hand was shaking as she tried to lift her pistol. Snatching at the trigger, she tried to gun down the zed who had wounded her,  almost crying as the rounds slammed into the floor by the feet of the dead ‘un.  “Fuck off!” She screamed at the monster with all her frustration and anger that had built up over the last few weeks.  The sheer volume of the shout stopped  the zombie in its tracks and it stood a few feet away blinking at her stupidly [the zeds didn't activate this turn…]. With tears of pain pouring down her cheeks, she spun on her heel and dove for the door, a mild regret of not having searched the building nagging in the back of brain, while the rest, the more survival orientated part was urging her to get out, make speed, gain distance….

to be continued...
hope you enjoy

Monday, 19 September 2016

ATZ - the Board Game part 1

Hi all


Hahahaha yes shockingly this post is not about Bushido, instead it incorporates the unboxing of All Things Zombie (ATZ) the board game, published in 2009 by Lock and Load. The game is by Two Hour Wargames and Ed Texiera as the designer.  I was the very lucky (and grateful) recipient of the largesse by the lovely Gilberts of “The Gamers Cupboard” fame. It won’t be a comprehensive review of the game as I will leave these things to the experts of which there are many including our very own Bryan “Vampifan” Scott, who could and probably have taken the game through it’s paces, I have a feeling that it has been rewritten as well.  I’m also going to run through in the form of a batrep the first scenario from the game that I played recently with my son.

Inside the game you have five white dice and one black, a full-colour manual with all of the rules in it. You have cards for each of the set characters with all of their profiles and gaming stats on.  There is a turn on track, with which you can mark your progress (I’m not sure if the scenarios require limited turns but it’s there should you need it.  Also you get a pack of cards for randomising the amount of zombies that spawn in an area and some loot cards for when you explore buildings. There is a full set of card counters all in colour and printed on very thick card which is very durable.  There are two double sided playing mats printed on the same card and marked out with hexes all given a specific designation and with buildings covering the board.  Lastly you also get a a quick reference guide, this has on it the insight reaction test, received fire reaction test and other valuable information.

As stated earlier we will playing the first scenario – “For a Few Minutes More”, set on Apocalypse Day +26. Stefan will be playing Tonya who is a “star” and I will be playing Beck her sidekick and buddy, who is a “grunt” but for ease I will be playing as a “star” and we will both be competing against the zombies controlled by the game mechanics.  The idea of the scenario is for the girls to explore the buildings on the map until they both find a weapon or they have searched all of the buildings and escaped off the map edge.

Tonya strode down the dusty road as if it were the Strip back in Vegas, larger than life and as bold as she ever was back in the day before the world blew to hell.  Beck snuck an admiring glance at her friend, trying to emulate the confident and graceful stride that Tonya seemed to effortlessly pull off.  The girls had been moving constantly since the early days of the Apocalypse and the end of humanity as the dominant species on the planet.  Moving during the day and fortifying whatever shelter they could find at night, barely sleeping and always on high alert, they were exhausted.  Not that you would know from looking at Tonya, Beck reflected ruefully, Tonya looked like she had just woken from a solid ten hour slumber – bright eyed and bushy tailed! Only the grime on her clothes and the 9mm in her right hand betrayed the recent turn of events and stopped her friend from looking like she had stepped out of the pages of a magazine. “Well maybe ‘Guns and Ammo’ magazine at least” Beck mused with a snort and a supressed laugh, earning her a quizzical look from her BFF.  This only made Beck laugh harder as she bent over holding her sides, every enquiring look and now clear exasperation from Tonya made it worse until tears rolled down Beck’s filthy face leaving tracks of clean skin down her sunburned cheeks.

Several minutes later she managed to reduce the noise of her raucous laughter down to a few little hiccups and snorts, much to the annoyance of her friend, when she heard the first shuffles and moans of nearby zombies.  “Damn it Beck” Tonya sighed, pulling the slide on her pistol and checking to make sure a round was chambered.  Eyes up and scanning the girls moved into survival mode and headed toward the nearby residence.

That's it for this post, next one is the batrep - stay tuned!
hope you enjoy

Friday, 16 September 2016

Winner! well the bronze anyway....

Hi all

Before I get onto the topic of this post, I will be cutting the amount of posts I put out from next week.  This is due to the start of uni for my last year and it's already shaping up to be a hectic one, with lots of clinical placements and assessments amongst the plethora of essays and reports and all the while I'm still employed full time by the Trust so have to work a 37.5hr week (which with late sign offs inevitably rises passed the 40hr mark). As you can imagine this will impact on my blogging/gaming, so I will have to restrict my blogging output in order to get at least some time at the Wargames table! I'll try for twice a week which will be Monday and Thursday, but will more likely be just once a week - Monday.  I will still be reading and commenting on my fave blogs so I won't totally disappear and I've prepared a couple of posts already including an ATZ the board game batrep so da Gobbo will still be about.

Anyhoo a little while ago I put out a post celebrating Big Lee's 2 million views on his blog Big Lee's Miniature Adventures, yes that's right 2 million - jeez!  Anyway as well as a congratulatory post it also entered me into his prize draw and I got picked out! YES!!

The prize was a £25 e-voucher for Warbases, now I have looked at their website quite a few times over the last few years, particularly when the esteemed sir Michael Awdry produces one of his wonderful vignettes and adds those little hidden details, you know a little pheasant here, a rabbit or two there. I also admire the casualty markers my gaming buddy Chris "Naps" Thorne of the Nerd Herd uses in our Black Powder games.  So it was with great excitement that I went storming over to Warbases and started shopping, here is what I got.

yummy loot!! So what's in the pile of goods you may ask, so here we go.  We have a pack of pheaants, a badger, a pack of foxes, a pack of rabbits, assorted dog models inc bulldog! 8 large polygon mdf bases and 12 casualty/pin markers with 12 16mm trays and 24 perspex inserts (12 pin and 12 casualty) all for just over £25 - total bargain!!

Thanks Lee you're a total legend!!!

But this post isn't finished let me show what I did in a fit of uncontrolled excitement in the 24 hours since receiving the bundle.

The casualty markers are 30mm, the smaller size, I could have got the 40mm which would have fitted the insert with more space around the edges, but I didn't want them to be too intrusive on my games.  Painting the tops of the markers and the 16mm trays with GW Mournfang Brown, I then glued the inserts to the top of the marker. Finally I used a ballast and static grass basing technique to blend with my other figs and board.  I gave the perspex markers a quick coat of very watered down black paint and wiped the excess off leaving the inscription coated in black and making the words easier to read, I prefer this technique to what some other gamers do which is to use a wax crayon as my way is quicker and just as effective.

Now I can use the "Pin" inserts for my Bolt Action games and the "Casualty" markers for my Black Powder games, or I can just turn them over and use the blank sides as generic markers.  Alternatively I can use them to hold "order" dice for BA or an ordinary 16mm dice for PEFs in ATZ or any other game.  They are also useful turn counters!!

with my Bremen Field Battalion for BP

for BA, my Commando find themselves receiving fire and becoming pinned
Next up was the polygon bases, I got these with a very specific reason, "Pass" tokens for Bushido. Some factions particularly the militaristic Prefecture of Ryu make extensive use of the Pass token. You can also gain them when you're faction is outnumbered in the game and they can be played instead of moving a miniature.  This can be very useful as activation control is vital in this game. You of course can use anything from a dice to a slip of paper to a matchstick, Damon and I have been using D10s (of which I have loads).  But me, being me wanted something bespoke so I sprayed the tokens black using a very smelly car primer!  I then gave them another coat with Vallejo black as the spray isn't very absorbing and makes paint run off....

Following that I used a small 15mm base to make a white circle in the middle of one side and then hand painted a Yin Yang symbol.  This was then given a sprayed seal to protect it.

On the other side I looked up the word "Pass" in Japanese Kanji and painted it on.  It was only after I finished all of them did I think that I might have used Pass in the wrong context, but looking up similar words it seems I'm not far off, phew! Again I sprayed a sealant on to protect it from the hard use it's bound to have.  As you can see with the paint pot in the background these tokens are fairly big, this was very deliberate as I wanted a very visual token as they don't go on the table top and sit at the side of the game and need to be seen by your opponent easily.

And there we have it, my Warbases prize used almost immediately.  I already have plans to use a lot of the animals as I need to rebase my woods and trees.

My thanks to Big Lee for the prize and again I tip my hat to the unimaginable number of 2 million hits, check out his blog here, I promise you, you will not be sorry as he covers a massive array of topics!

hope you enjoy

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Like a Bridge Over Troubled Water

Hi all

following the finishing of my river sections and having been very pleased with the results the next step would be, naturally, how do we cross this?  Now I built two fords into the straight sections and they are fine, they can allow normal movement over a medium strength river that counts as difficult terrain and slows movement, or they can be treated as difficult terrain and slow movement over impassible terrain - Lovely stuff!  However nothing says river crossing or looks quite so iconic on a miniature battlefield as a bridge.  Yes bridges not only look the part but offer a strategic objective to battle over, a vital piece of the field that generals have been fighting and dying over for centuries.

So I needed a bridge, now I've struggled with these almost as long as I have with producing credible river sections.  Most of my efforts have looked out of place or improbable, with thin card struts not offering any strength to a structure or not fitting the type of games I play. I ended up with simple wooden planks across the sections which look ok for makeshift structures and not a lot else. What I needed was a generic looking bridge that looked realistic enough and fit most genres.

Looking at the materials I had available (I was not going to spend money on this project) I chose to make the bridge out of foamboard, cardboard and Filler (Spackle).

Cutting a basic humpback bridge shape for both sides out of foamboard, I glued them to a cardboard base.

I then mixed filler (premixed) with plenty of water I then "painted" the runny mixture onto the each part of the model seperately and left it to dry a little.  When it was a little damp I used a cocktail stick to carve flagstones into the filler.

When it was fully dry, I gave it a light sand.

Then I sprayed the whole thing with matt black car spray and drybrushed the whole thing with a mix of dark brown emulsion and the cookie dough emulsion I use for my Temple project.  I lightened this up until it was pure cookie dough.  Then covered it with a dark brown homemade wash.

I then mixed green flock with a green acrylic paint and PVA glue with a lot of water and use this to brush "moss" onto the underside of the bridge and the lower support, adding some lichen to represent climbing plants.

So there we have it, a river and bridge that i'm really pleased to add to my games table.

hope you enjoy

Monday, 12 September 2016

Everybody was Kung Fu fighting....

Hi all

guess what song you're gonna have stuck in your head for the rest of the day...... bwahahaha

There are loads of reasons to love the game Bushido by GCT Studios, regular readers of my blog will have seen me practically salivating over the gorgeous miniatures, enthusing over the “fluff” surrounding the setting of the game – the fictional Jwar Isles and the unique blend of oriental fantasy that permeates into all levels of Bushido. 

gorgeous miniatures
 These are all great things and they really make this game come alive for me but let's face it there are other games that have terrific models and yet others that have volumes of background “fluff” that bring the world alive for the tabletop wargaming – Malifaux and Warhammer to name but two. So what is it that draws me to the game time and time again (and probably bores the socks off of most of you good folks). Is it the vast number of scenarios that reward good tactics rather than just who can figure out the most ‘killy’ list? Is it the balance that runs through the game and the factions? that means you can buy the models you love the look/background of and still find a use for them on the tabletop. After all we all know of models that look amazing but rarely get a run out on the boards due to points costs or poor synergy with the rest of the warband don't we? These are all good reasons and on their own and add up to make a great game, but for me the main reason for loving this game is the combat system.

no I mean seriously look at these models

Aye I know, I've literally just said that the game rewards good tactics rather than uber warrior lists but bear with me as I reason this one out for you. In most games the tactic is purely in the manoeuvring of the opposing armies and making sure your shock troops wash away his weaker missile armed troops or getting your God-like hero to wade into the ranks of poorly equipped Goblins and rag on them for a bit until they are destroyed or run away. But once you're in melee then it's just chuck a few dice, consult a table, remove some models.  The odds are already worked out, there generally is very little interaction or room to change those odds, to alter the outcome or bluff your opponent. This is fine for mass battles and hundreds of figures but for smaller games this isn't enough for me and this is where Bushido comes into its own, this is where the game has grabbed my attention and ensured that I come back for more time and again.

“So what's so special about the combat system?” I hear you say.

Well  built into the mechanic in several ways is the tactical side of the game again - bluff and uncertainty, the game encourages you to think whether you want to gamble or fight conservatively. What do you need your fighter to do? Is (s)he gonna beat the tar out of your opponent or do they just need to hold them up for an activation or two, while other more important things are going on? Are they wearing them down slowly or going for a smackdown? Do they need to push your opponent out of a certain area of control or knock them to the floor? Yes certain models are better at some of these things or one of these things, some can even do all of these things but it is this level of interaction that brings me back to the Bushido game. These nuances that give the player more control, gives detail but still flows easily and doesn't distract the player from imagining the swirl of battle and the spectacle of eastern martial arts.
no i really mean it, they are sooooo good!!
Ok without printing the entire game verbatim (you can download them free if you want to) the sequence for a Bushido melee is roughly this…..

  • ·        Attacker declares a melee action and moves into base to base (btb) contact with the defender.
  • ·        Players must declare any Ki feats (that are allowed in melee) or Ki boosts (using Ki to increase the amount of dice rolled in melee) with the defender declaring first. This gives the attacker a slim advantage in counteracting any boosts.
  • ·        Players calculate their available dice pool. Each character has a MS which indicates how many dice they can roll in melee from 0-4 usually.  This is adjusted by things such as exhaustion, outnumbering, surprise and being prone.  With ki boosts and special attacks (SA) and special defences (SD) this can be reduced to 0 (any value below 0 adds dice to the opponents pool) or could add  as much as 8.
  • ·        Players choose any special attacks or defences. This is done in secret and you can buy the cards with the SA/D printed or make your own, or simply write down which attack/defence you use. It must be one or the other you cannot have a SA and a SD. Some SA/D reduce available dice, this depends on the individual characters and is shown on their character cards as Throw Attack (1) which would reduce available dice by 1 or Push Defence (0) which would not effect the number of dice available. There is also a Bluff card just to add to the tension.
  • ·        Players divide their available dice into attack or defence dice. Again this is done in secret using different coloured dice. There are official faction dice but these are nice to haves and in effect you can use any d6s you chose as long as they are distinguishable as all dice are thrown at the same time.
  • ·        Both players roll all the dice at the same time. The time for bluffing has ended, it's time to let the chips fall as they will.
  • ·        Resolve the attackers dice first including any SA/D. Then the defenders. This could end up with the melee ending due to the defender either being killed or made prone, immobilised or the combatants separated before the defender gets to hit back.
  • ·        Both combatants have their condition worsened by one step. Rested --> tired --> exhausted

This may seem like a lot of steps and in fact I’ve simplified them a little, there are success levels and wounds to score, traits like dodge, feint, parry, toughness and armour all affect these to a certain degree or other, BUT the whole thing flows really well after a few goes, in fact after a few goes it takes no time at all and the hardest part is remembering to use your traits correctly.  Remember also that you only have half a dozen figures per side so it's not overly draining in anyway.
just in case you were in any doubt, just look at how lush these are....
Here are some examples of how it works…..

Kenko – a monk from the Temple of Ro Kan enters into melee with Jin from the Prefecture of Ryu.  The Temple player just wants to put some hurt on the Prefecture (not very monk like, tsk tsk) so he is going for maximum damage, the Prefecture player wants to protect Jin from the pummelling to come.  Neither side really knows the intention of the other…..

Example 1a

Jin, thanks to the long reach of her Yari (spear) has First Strike trait and automatically becomes the attacker with Kenko, despite initiating melee becoming the defender. He therefore has to declare Ki feats or boosts first. Determined to beat on Jin he boosts his already good Dice pool of 4 to 5 using his Ki.  Jin who has no Ki available has to rely on her modest Dice pool of 3.

Kenko next chooses (in secret) any special attacks or defences and chooses Combo Attack, which will allow him to strike Jin multiple times if he has a high enough success level. However for Kenko Combo Attack costs him a dice reducing his available pool back to 4 (from 5 because of his Ki boost). Jin chooses (in secret) Push Attack which will allow her to keep Kenko at arms length using her Yari to its best advantage. Push Attack for Jin is rated (0) and doesn't reduce her available dice, which stays at 3.

Now comes the tricky part for the players! Does Jin go all out attack (roll all three of her available dice in attack) and hope she scores high enough to drive Kenko away before he can do damage or does she hedge her bets and put a couple of dice into attack and a single dice in defence just in case he foils her Push Attack. Kenko needs to decide how many of his 4 dice he gives over to attack and get that Combo Attack and how many in defence to foil any attacks Jin can muster – arrgh choices, choices!!

Kenko decides to put 3 dice into his attack and a single dice in defence. Jin decides to put all 3 dice into attack and trust to her armour if Kenko gets through.

Rolling dice together –
Kenko gets a 5,3, 2 in attack which gives him a total of 7 (the highest dice score plus 1 for every dice roll that wasn't a 1 (which is a failure)) and a 5 in defence
Jin gets a 4,2,1 in attack for a total of 5 and a 0 in defence (she didn't allocate defence dice so gets a zero score).

Jin is the attacker due to her First Strike so her dice are resolved first. Her attack score was 5 vs Kenko’s defence of 5 therefore she is successful in her attack (albeit with a success level of 0, which counts as successful only negative numbers aren't a success). She reveals that she used Push Attack and Kenko is pushed back 1” from melee and therefore is unable to resolve his own attack, which would have been at success level 7 which would have been very bad for Jin indeed.

Example 1b

Same situation, same goals.

Kenko goes 3 dice in attack and 1 in defence, Jin this time allocates 2 in attack and 1 in defence.

As before Kenko rolls 5,3,2 in attack for total 7 and a 5 in defence
However  Jin rolls a 4,1 (not getting the 2 like the previous example as she only rolled two dice) for a total attack of 4 (1 always being a failure), she also rolls a 2 in defence.

Jin is the attacker thanks to First Strike, her 4  cannot beat Kenko’s 5 in defence (4-5=-1) so she is unsuccessful in her attack and her Push Attack doesn't come into effect.  It’s now time to resolve Kenko’s attack, he scored a total of 7 and Jin rolled a miserable 2 in defence leaving a success level of 5 (7-2=5) and Jin is facing a total battering as Kenko reveals his Combo Attack with a nasty grin……

Same situation, same desired goals by each player, but by changing the dice from attack to defence the melee goes a completely different way.

Example 2

Hagane Takashi is comfortably beating up a peasant Rice Farmer of Ro Kan, in fact she is just about to administer the Coup d' grace when a large shadow engulfs the fighting humans.  

Aiko's Guardian comes steaming in from across the meadow in a full charge.

Hagane's in big, BIG trouble, she has a MS 4 reduced to 3 because of outnumbering, then reduced by another die again because she is surprised (attack from outside of her Line of Sight) leaving her with 2. As the defender she needs to declare Ki boosts or feats.  She has 4 Ki remaining so uses all of it to boost her available dice by two back up to 4.  The gorilla is unable to boost its MS so will have 3.

The next big decision for the Temple player is does he go for massive damage (charging adds +2 to damage plus the +2 that the Gorilla already causes) or does he use his charging bonus - Slam Attack to prone Hagane opening her up for even more pain in the next activation.  He chooses to attempt to Slam Hagane, this will give him an advantage later on.  He decides to go all out attack in order to make sure he gets the result he needs.  Hagane for her part needs to stop the Slam from succeeding and decides to go all out defence and use Side Step Defence (1) to get away from what is now a very disadvantaged fight and losing a die in the process.

Rolling together they get the following :-

Guardian - 6,6,3 for a total attack of 10! (sixes rolled after the first add +2 rather than just +1, Brutal adds +1 to your highest dice roll and the other dice adds a further plus 1, 6+2+1+1=10)

Hagane - 4,2,1 for a total defence of 5 (4+2=5, the 1 being an auto failure does not add to the total)

The Guardian pulls of a Success Level 5 attack (10-5=5) bet the Temple wishes he had just gone for a straight up attack as it probably would have killed her.  As it is he scores half damage and slams Hagane d3 inches away and causes her to become prone.  Unfortunately the Temple player didn't angle his attack properly and the Slam impacts into the Rice Farmer cowering behind and he goes down in a heap as well.....oops!

Example 3

Hotaru of Ro Kan is set upon by Hiro Takashi while she is already in melee with Tenchi both of the Prefecture of Ryu.  Hotaru has already fought in one melee with the highly skilled warrior priest Tenchi and now in combat with a hugely competent samurai as well things look bleak for the Ro Kan player.

Hiro is the attacker with Hotaru being the defender. Hotaru has a MS 3 and as the defender has to declare any Ki feats or boosts first. She decides to plough her remaining Ki into a boost to raise it to 4, however she is outnumbered because of Tenchi and has to remove a dice because of that, back down to 3 then.   Hiro is confident in his ability to destroy the young monk and boosts his MS to 5 with his Ki. Neither side declares a Ki feat.

 Hotaru, desperate to get out of this melee with two armoured warriors chooses her special attack/defence with care and goes with Side Step Defence (0) which doesn't remove any precious dice from her pool, keeping her with 3.  Hiro chooses to go for glory and declares Powerful Attack (1) which does remove a dice from his pool reducing him to 4.

In secret they split their dice up with Hiro allocating 3 to attack and 1 to defence, just in case the fiery monk sticks a boot in…. Hotaru allocates all of her dice into defence knowing if she is successful she can move 1” away from Hiro and out of the potentially nasty combat.

Rolling the dice together they get……. Ah well you get the idea…..hahaha

The point I'm trying to make (and probably just causing confusion) is that these examples are not foregone conclusions and the choices you make whether it be allocation of dice to attack or defence, which SA or SD you want to use, if any.  If for example you pitted a Goblin Warlord armed to the teeth and armoured to the best the greenskin smiths can manufacture put him into combat with the most lowly of Dragons then the outcome is a foregone conclusion - mathematically but the other day I put a Racoon shaped Yokai up against a Dragon and they fought for the length of the game!

 Oh and did I mention that I love the miniatures?

hope you enjoy